Listen on YouTube
Welcome to Episode 12 of the Rescued by Dragons podcast, Tales of the Brunch Club: A weekly fantasy adventure based on a home brewed Dungeons and Dragons campaign played by a group of friends in Portland, Maine.
My name is Dominic White and I invite you to picture yourself in a cozy, torch-lit tavern, ale in hand, gathered around a table with other listeners, waiting to hear the next chapter in the tale of… The Brunch Club.
But first, a quick recap of our previous episode…
In episode 11, The Brunch Club, much to Vorjhon’s disapproval, voted against chasing the young hag back into the bog. Instead they left early the next morning to hunt the wolf-like monster which had been seen to the north of Boughmoor. Elora set a snare trap that wound up capturing Chad, who, along with his brother, Thad, had followed their trail. They were all attacked by a giant werebeast and three large wolves under its command. They party fought off the wolves and killed the beast. They dragged the body back to Boughmoor for identification. On the way they found an orphaned wolf pup named Harir who Drusila and Elora adopted. They were attacked by a group of goblins led by a magic wielding nilbog who confused Chad and Thad, and charmed Drusila and Vorjhon. Fortunately Salys killed the nilbog and they arrived, at the gates of Boughmoor just before nightfall.
Episode 12, “Form Boughmoor To Wheaton”
It wasn’t fully dark yet, but the northern gates to Boughmoor were already closed, shutting out the nocturnal beasts.
“Hey, let us in, we killed your werewolf!” Chad cried as he banged loudly on the door with the pommel of his great sword.
Drusilla and Elora looked at eachother and rolled their eyes behind him.
A panel in the gate at human eye level slid open. A young man’s face was behind it. “Who are you?” he asked Chad and Thad bruskly.
“We’re the heroes who killed the beast in the woods,” Chad said triumphantly.
“More like the idiots who helped us kill the beast in the woods,” Salys corrected.
Vorjhon approached the peep hole, politely motioned for Chad to step aside, and introduced themselves as hunters in Raif Brenton’s employ. “It would be best if you allow us inside so our ripe friend here doesn’t attract hungry beasts to your gate,” Vorjhon gestured toward the corpse of the werebeast attached to the ropes looped over Chad’s and Thad’s shoulders.
Being the only dragonborn in town, Vorjohn was immediately recognized by the yguard who opened the gates for them. They dragged their prize directly to the Raif’s doorstep.
Harir left Druslia’s and Elora’s sides to explore this new location and sample all the odors it had to offer. They coaxed him back to them with a handful of jerky from their rations.
The braziers on either side of Raif Brenton’s door were already aflame. They back lit the two guards flanking Raif Brenton’s steps. They stood in relaxed poses, leaning against the plinths on either side of the first stair. When they saw the group of two elves, one gnome, one dragonborn, one wolf, and two large humans dragging an eight foot corpse behind them, they assumed more authoritative postures.
“Good evening,” Vorjhon greeted them before Chad could. “I know it’s late, but we have urgent business with Raif Brenton. He may be expecting us.”
The older guard nodded at Vorjhon with recognition and glanced at the corpse on the ground. “It doesn’t look like a social call,” he said with a smile. He made a ‘go’ gesture with his head toward the younger guard and ordered, “Inform the Raif he has visitors.” He turned back to study the dead beast from his post. “I’ve never seen anything like that,” he said. “What is it?”
Vorjhon chuckled, “We were hoping you could tell us. We are new to these lands.”
“Really? I never would have guessed.” smiled the guard in return.
The door opened. The younger guard came out first and resumed his post. Raif Brenton followed, still fastening his cloak about his shoulders to ward off the chilly night air.
“I didn’t expect to see the six of you working together,” he started to greet them before catching sight of their cargo. “Good gods! What is that thing?”
“That seems to be the question of the day,” Drusila answered.
Brenton got closer for a better look. Drusila cast a single glowing orb to shed light on the beast. Upon seeing its grotesque face with deadly looking fangs fully illuminated, Brenton gasped and stepped instinctually backwards.
“Tell me about the hunt,” he asked after collecting himself.
Chad began to speak, but Brenton held up his hand to quiet him. “I would like to hear it from the ranger, if you don’t mind.”
Elora told Brenton about how they tracked it to a clearing and laid a trap for it when Chad and Thad caught up to them.
“Did the trap work?” Brenton asked.
Everyone but Chad tried to suppress a smile. “A deer set it off,” Elora said.
Thad playfully punched his brother in the arm. Chad brushed it away with an annoyed look on his face.
Raif Brenton seemed to notice the unspoken, private joke among them, but did not press the matter, and let Elora finish her account without interruption.
“Tell him about goblins,” Vorjhon reminded her.
“Goblins?” Brenton asked with surprise.
“Yeah,” Elora said. “We were attacked by 7 of them. We killed them all, but there’s no telling how many more you might have in those woods out there.”
“One of them was a mage of some kind,” Drusilla warned.
“That is disturbing,” Brenton said. “I hope it was an isolated incident, but I will double the guards on watch for a while just in case.”
“So what about our half of the bounty?” Chad said before Brenton had time to pause after his last thought.
“Um, excuse me?” Salys interjected loudly. “What do you mean, ‘your half?’”
“Duh,” Chad answered. “Your group gets one half, we get the other half.”
“In case you can’t count that high,” Salys replied, “There are six of us. That means it gets split six ways.”
“Nuh unh!” Chad countered. “We would have killed it without you guys getting in the way.”
“Look,” Salys reasoned. “You had your chance to do it on your own. We had to wait because of other commitments. You guys could have tracked it on your own and done this two days ago. But you snoozed, so now you lose.”
“But!” Chad exclaimed, frustrated. “You had a ranger with you, we had to wait for you guys to go first so we could find it.”
Thad threw up his arms in disgust and rolled his eyes at his brother.
“Sooooo,” Salys said smiling at him with a single eyebrow arched, “you admit that we did most of the work then?”
“No!” Chad stammered. “Well, yes, I mean…”
“It should be,” Vorjhon interjected, “Raif Brenton’s decision. Can we all agree that we will accept graciously how he says bounty will be split?”
Everyone nodded their heads, except for Harir, who cautiously sniffed the corpse’s feet.
Brenton took a deep breath, and let it out slowly, converting his thoughts into words. “Since Chad or Thad didn’t dispute Elora’s account of the hunt, and admitted they were waiting for them to go first so they could follow them, I have decided the bounty shall be split among you in 6 equal shares.
“That’s bogus,” muttered Chad under his breath.
“I trust you will all get along, while I fetch your coin?” Brenton asked, eyeing Chad before walking back into his home and headquarters.
While they waited they made small talk with the older guard. His name was Tahard, and he thanked them for helping stop the nightmares that had been plaguing the town.
“I don’t know if we stopped them for good,” Drusilla warned. “They may return.”
“I’m just grateful for a few nights of peaceful sleep,” Tahard replied. “At least if they do come back, we know what’s causing them and what to hunt down.”
Raif Brenton returned after a few minutes and handed them each a palm sized bag of gold. He gestured at the body of the beast, “This thing can’t be left out here overnight. If you could do me a favor and take it to Ulrich’s, I’d appreciate it.”
“We are happy to,” said Vorjhon agreeably.
Chad and Thad dropped the ropes they were still holding. “We didn’t get paid enough to keep dragging this thing,” Chad said as they started walking away.
“Thanks for the whiskey, dragonman!” Thad shouted over his shoulder, smiling as he waved.
Brenton watched them walk away. When they were out of ear shot he turned back toward The Brunch Club and thanked them. “I wish I could give you more. I appreciate how many times you’ve risked your lives for us in the short time you’ve been here.”
They told the Raif they were continuing their journey to Elnor in the morning, and would hopefully return someday soon with answers regarding Juni.
Brenton shook all their hands and bade them a good night. Vorjhon picked up one of the ropes attached to the beast. Drusila and Elora picked up the other. Together they dragged the dead thing to Ulrich’s house.
When they deposited the beast’s corpse in front of the Druid’s shop, the lights were still on. They could see his silhouette at a work table through the window. Drusila knocked gently on the door.
They heard chair legs slide across wood, and footsteps approach the door. When it opened, Ulrich stook there, not at all surprised to see them.
“Word travels fast in a small town,” he smiled. “I was wondering when you’d get here.” He looked down at the creature stretched out on the ground. “It’s best we get this out of the street. Let’s bring it around back.” He helped them drag it around his shop. The backyard was surrounded by a fence that was a smaller version of the fence that surrounded the town. It was made of seven foot tall vertical slats with no space between them. The tops were chiseled into sharp points. Ulrich unlatched the gate and they dragged the werebeast into the yard.
“It’s cold enough that he’ll keep for a while, and the fence will keep the scavengers out,” Ulrich explained.
“Do you know what it is?” Elora asked, out of professional curiosity.
Ulrich knelt next to it. He held his hand out with the palm up, from which a bright flame appeared.
He used the light to inspect the beast for a few minutes.
“I think I might,” he said. “Let’s go inside where it’s warm.” He closed his palm, extinguishing the flame.
They watched as he scanned a row of books on one of the shelves in his shop. He picked one out and began leafing through it. “Ah ha!” he said with an affectation of triumph and placed the book on a table so they could all see it. The illustration on the page Ulrich pointed at was a crude, wood block illustration, but wholly recognizable as the lifeless creature in the druid’s back yard.
“It is a barghest,” Ulrich said. “I won’t bore you with the details, but it’s a shapeshifter. It’s natural shape is what you see out there, but it can take the form of a wolf or goblin.
“So is werewolf, but non-wolf part is goblin?” asked Vorjhon.
“Yes and no,” Ulrich said, “but close enough.”.
“I wonder if it has to do with the goblins and nilbog that attacked us?” Drusilla pondered.
“Goblins?” Ulrich asked with surprise.
They told the Druid the same tale they had told Brenton earlier about their encounter with the goblins in the forest. They also told them they would be leaving for Elnor early in the morning and this would most likely be good bye until they returned.
Ulrich wished them well, said his goodbyes and thank yous and assured them he would discuss the goblin’s presence with the Raif and keep an eye on Anne and Cooper.
By the time they returned to their rooms at the Laughing Pine Lodge, it had been another extremely long day and they could all feel the exhaustion starting to creep into their sore muscles and aching joints.
They said goodnight to each other, made a plan to meet downstairs for breakfast in the morning, then went to their respective rooms.
When Vojhon entered his room, he noticed a large, humanoid shape in his bed. He withdrew his warhammer and called softly “who’s there?”.
The shape did not move. Vorjhon could not hear breathing. He whispered an oath to Bahamut that caused his warhammer to glow and fill the room with a bright divine light.
Lying on top of the blanket was a scarecrow. It was the same manner of scarecrow that had been left outside his friend Jamieson’s farm the night before he was killed near Wyhill. He knew he should be concerned, even alarmed, but he was too tired. He stripped off his armor, pulled the scarecrow off his bed, and tossed it across the small room. He got down on one knee and said his nightly prayers to the Silver Flame and Bahamut. The paladin then rolled onto the thin, but oh so comfortable mattress and willingly succumbed to sleep.
Salys was the last one up that morning and found her companions already in the dining room. Neither Anne nor Cooper were there, but there was a tray of breakfast foods, and pitchers of juice on the bar.
“Self service, this morning?” said Salys. She got herself a muffin and a glass of juice then sat on the bench between Vorjhon and Drusilla.
“I imagine they are not feeling social right now,” said Vorjhon.
“They’re grieving,” Drusilla offered. “I don’t blame them for not wanting to see us. We’re reminders.”
They all nodded with agreement.
Drusila gave a piece of meat to Harir who sat expectantly at her side, with wide, begging eyes. The young wolf gobbled it down happily before turning to Elora on the other side of her. Elora glanced down and gave the wolf another piece of meat.
Vorjhon startled them when he suddenly remembered the stick in his pack. He handed it to Elora. “Do you know what kind of tree this is?” he asked the ranger.
“Yeah. Bloodwood,” she answered.
“It does not grow around here?” Vorjhon questioned further.
“No. It only grows in the Bloodwood forest. Hence the name,” Elora replied through bites of an apple.
“Um… why do you have a bloodwood stick?” Salys asked.
“It was part of scarecrow in my bed last night,” the dragonborn answered nonchalantly. He continued to eat, not noticing the others had stopped and were staring at him.
He looked up at their expectant, shocked faces. He told them the story of finding a scarecrow in his bed. “I think nothing of it at time,” he added. “But this is same stick scarecrows at Jamieson’s farm made with. Seems strange they should be made from sticks not from here.”
“That seems strange?” Salys asked incredulously. “Not the fact that someone put a very specific and personal scarecrow in your bed last night?”
Vorjhon shrugged. “I suppose. But I was too tired to care. I think we should not let it distract us. We should continue to Elnor.”
“He’s right,” Drusilla agreed. “It seems like it was personally directed at Vorjhon, and probably not a threat to anyone in town. We should start sharing rooms from now on though, to be safe.”
They finished their breakfast, left a note and a generous amount of gold for Anne and Cooper, and left the inn.
“We need to stop at the dry goods merchant first,” Elora said.
“Good idea, we should stock up on rations,” agreed Vorjhon.”
They bought enough rations to last through the journey to Wheaton, the next town on the way to Elnor.
Drusilla and Elora each bought as many pounds of jerky they had room for. Harir looked pleased.
The road from Boughmoor to Wheaton had its own dangers, but it was much less dangerous than the trail through the bitch bog. It felt good to travel on a genuine road again. They took long, easy strides and did not miss having to force their legs out of deep squelching muck at every step. The Brunch Club enjoyed three uninterrupted days and nights of comparatively easy travel.
During the late afternoon of the fourth day, they came across their first unusual sight on the road. In the distance they saw the silhouette of a huge humanoid figure push a horse drawn carriage over and begin beating on its side with its fists.
“Shit,” said Elora, “Hill giant. Whoever’s in there is going to die.”
Even though they were still 500 feet away, Elora let an arrow fly. It ascended in a graceful arc before burying itself deep in the giant’s shoulder. It let out a scream and began charging them. Vorjhon ran a few feet ahead and got ready to intercept the giant in case the rest of the party couldn’t bring it down before it closed the gap.
When the hill giant got within 120 feet of them, it stopped. It grabbed a large boulder and threw it at Vorjhon with surprising speed and accuracy. The paladin decided to stay where he was should the boulder miss him and hit someone else. He screamed in agony as he felt his shield arm shatter and several ribs snap at the impact. The boulder drove him into the ground. His insides were now made of pain, and his head was dizzy, but he did not lose consciousness. He saw the giant pick up another rock and then get hit by an arrow and several green magic missiles. It threw the boulder but Vorjhon could not see where it went.
The hill giant ran forward and closed the gap between them with a few long strides. Vorjhon spit up blood as he struggled to get to his feet. Before the hill giant could finish the dragonborn off, it was struck once again with an arrow, more magic missiles, and a large bolt of purple energy. The hill giant’s pupils rolled up into its eye sockets. It swayed from side to side, then collapsed backwards. It’s final breath left its body as it slammed upon the road.
The three women immediately came to Vorjhon’s aid. The paladin had dropped to one knee. He dropped his warhammer and placed his good hand on his broken arm and mended most of the breaks with his healing touch. It still hurt to remove his shield and his insides still felt like they were not where they were supposed to be.
Drusila cast a healing prayer upon him. Vorjhon gave her an appreciative nod, then cast a healing prayer of his own upon himself, and then another. He stood up. He was not fully healed, but he did not have the energy for another prayer of healing. The cleric was about to cast another, but he interrupted. “Save it.” He gestured toward the overturned carriage. “They may need it.”
They started to run toward the overturned but slowed down when they saw two figures climbing out of the door, then jumping down to the ground, seemingly unhurt.
“Is anyone else in there?” asked Salys.
A middle aged human man in fine clothing befitting a successful merchant told them no one was in the carriage, and they were fine. He introduced himself as Bronald, “And this is my friend, My Name Is Crow.”
Next to him stood a creature in terracotta brown robes and a fine, wide brimmed, floppy hat. He appeared to be covered in feathers and had a long black beak. He looked like a five foot tall bird, except that he had the body of a man, and no wings. His hands and shoeless feet looked like talons befitting a bird of prey. “My Name Is Crow!” greeted the creature enthusiastically.
Vorjhon began to wave, but a twinge of pain in his chest stopped him. “Nice to meet you, Bronald, Crow,” he greeted.
“My name is crow!” the bird-like creature said again.
“His name,” explained Bronald, “is ‘My Name Is Crow.”
“My Name Is Crow!” the birdman squawked again.
“Don’t pay too much attention to my friend’s peculiarities though,” Bronald smiled. “He is a Kenku and Kenkus talk in mimicry and repetition. It takes some getting used to. Oh! But where are my manners! Thank you for saving us! Thank you so much!” He shook all of their hands with appreciation.
Vorjhon winced when he shook his, but tried not to show too much pain.
“Oh dear, or dear,” Bronald sighed softly to himself after handshakes and thank yous were completed. Looking at his overturned cart he mused, “I’m not going to get to Trademeet like this.”
“Perhaps we can right it?” Vorjhon offered. The dragonborn was painfully sore, but still had his strength. With the combined effort of all six of them, they were able to push the cart back onto its four wheels. Bronald’s two horses were well trained and soon returned to the road from their hiding spots in the forest when their master whistled to them..
The Brunch Club invited Bronald and My Name Is Crow to camp with them for the night. They agreed and retrieved some food and bedrolls out of their carriage along with what appeared to be a long wooden staff wrapped in cloth.
“Are you going to Wheaton for the banshee bounty?” Bronald asked while they ate.
“Bounty?” Salsy asked brightly..
“Oh! You don’t know about that? I just assumed you were those adventuring types, given that you willingly took on a Hill Giant,” Bronald laughed.
“We’re actually just trying to get to Elnor and the Crystal Spire Library,” Drusilla explained.
“I want to hear more about this bounty!” Salys said with enthusiasm.
Bronald obliged her. “A banshee moved into the lighthouse in Wheaton Harbor several years ago. They’ve been offering a bounty on it but no one has been able to get close enough to the island to kill it. In fact it’s been so long, they decided to just build another lighthouse.
“Interesting,” mused Salys. “Do you know what the bounty is?”
“Two thousand gold, last I heard,” Bronald answered.
“Very interesting,” remarked Salys.
“Very interesting!” repeated the kenku.
“What about you?” Vorjhon asked. “What is in Trademeet for you?”
The merchant smiled and patted on the cloth-wrapped staff that lay on the ground next to him. “This does.” He glanced around at them as though trying to decide on something. “I suppose if you were dishonest bandits, you’d have waited for the giant to kill us,” he said, apparently making his decision.
He picked up the staff and slowly unwrapped it. They all agreed it was the most beautiful staff they had ever seen. It looked like it was made from countless braided small vines and then wrapped round with even smaller vines to hold it together. Wrapped around that were even more delicate vines. They formed a stunning filigree which rivaled anything they’d ever seen on even the finest decorative armor. The polished wood finish somehow glowed as though it were made of gold.
“I love just looking at it,” Bronald said softly before he began re-wrapping it in the cloth. “It’s supposed to be a special staff for druids that makes them extra powerful.”
“Did you get that in Elnor?” Drusila asked.
“Believe it or not,” the merchant answered, “I bought it from a wizard who owns a shop in Wheaton. I’m on my way to Trademeet to sell it to someone else, for a hefty mark up, of course!”
“I wonder what we can buy from this wizard?” pondered Salys.
Bronald chuckled. “Even if you do get that banshee bounty all to yourself, that would get you about a fifth of what this staff’s worth. Saberhagen mostly deals in rare magic items. Or as I call them, very expensive toys.”
Salys looked disappointed, but Bronald encouraged them to go to the wizard’s shop regardless. “It’s called the Sun Spot, and if nothing else, you have to meet Saberhagen. I guarantee that you’ve never met a wizard like him. And I think he’ll like you four.”
Bronald then reached into his pack and pulled out two small rings and handed them to Salys. “I don’t carry much gold on me when I travel, but I feel like I should give you something to thank you for saving me. These aren’t much, but they’re fun. They once belonged to a gnome bard, so I think they’ll fit you.”
The ring that fit her index finger had a violin etched into the band. The other ring fit her thumb and was decorated with an etching of a violin bow.
“Rub them together,” said Bronald with a smile of expectation.
Salys did, and they were all delighted to hear beautiful violin music begin to fill the air around them. The tempo of the music matched the speed at which Salys rubbed her fingers together.
“I love it!” gushed Salys. “Thank you!”
Salys entertained them some more and the small talk drifted off. They finally fell asleep around the dying fire. In the morning they parted ways with Bronald and My Name Is Crow. They continued to Tradmeet, and the Brunch Club continued to Wheaton.
On their seventh and last day on the road, Vorjhon finally felt back to his old, pre-boulder self. It was not even mid afternoon when they saw the taller buildings of Wheaton in the distance. They were stopped by three figures who leapt out of the woods with their swords drawn.
They were rather lanky boys who looked to be pushing 16 years of age at the most. The slightly taller, broader of the three waved his sword and demanded, “Give us your gold and nobody get’s hurt.”
“Boys,” Vorjhon said with quiet sternness, “It would be wise of you to go home.”
“We’re not boys!” one of them whined. “We’re highwaymen!”
“Yeah,” shouted the third. “Now give us your gold.”
“Highwaymen that attack groups bigger than they are?” asked Drusilla.
“And in broad daylight?” added Salys.
“Not to mention within sight of a guard tower,” Elora pointed out.
“Go home,” urged Drusilla. “Before we let our dragonborn have you.”
The boys stood their defitantly, but doubt was in their eyes.
Vorjhon stepped forward, raised his shield and warhammer, took a deep breath, then with a mighty dragon like roar, exhaled a cone of ice breath over their heads.
They dropped their swords and fled into the woods in three different directions.
Vorjhon picked up their swords and they approached the western gates of Wheaton.
Even from the gate they could see this was a larger town than Boughmoor. The gate was taller and better manned. There were more shops, taverns, and homes, as well as more people walking back and forth between them.
The open gates were manned by a pair of guards who asked their business without much hassle. Vorjhon informed them of the three teenage bandits and handed over their discarded swords.
One of the guards looked unhappy and said, “Yeah, I know who you’re talking about. I’ll let their parents know.”
“We will be looking for an inn, can you recommend one?” Dusilla asked.
“The White Claw Inn,” he advised. “It has a good reputation and it’s pretty quiet.”
“Perfect,” Vorjhon thanked them.
“Can you tell us where a store called the ‘Sun Spot’ is?” asked Salys.
The guards looked at each other in suspicious silence before one of them pointed past the main square.
Past the square, they saw a tower partially obscured by some smaller buildings in front of it.
It wasn’t a tower in the traditional sense. It wasn’t stone, or round, or symmetrical, or looked capable enough of standing on its own. It was more like a series of one story buildings of different sizes and architectural styles haphazardly stacked on top of one another. Sticking out from the highest floor was a long pole with a giant brass disc fixed to the end of it. It made the whole structure look dangerously off balance and anyone not used to seeing it every day would swear the whole thing was about to topple over any minute. The brass disk was finely polished and positioned in such a way that it directed a beam of sunlight directly into the glass skylight that served as the roof of the crooked tower.
“Ah,” Salys said. “I guess we could have figured that out on our own. Thank you.”
The guards nodded and wished them a pleasant stay in Wheaton.
This tale will continue next week in Episode 13
Episode 12 was written by Dominic White and based upon a Dungeons and Dragons campaign created by our dungeon master, Brian Messmer.
Valuable contributions to the story were added by the role playing of:
- JP Black, who plays Drusilla
- Liz Raychard, who plays Elora
- Anna Flemke, who plays Salys
- Dominic White, who plays Vorjhon
- And Brian Messmer, who plays everyone else
Thank you very much for listening Please join us next week to find out, along with the rest of us, what‘s going to happen next!